Local agencies merge to support teen moms

Published On: Dec 06 2012 05:10:35 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 06 2012 08:52:23 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -- -

For teen moms, juggling the pressures of high school while taking care of a child can be a challenge.

That's why two local agencies in our community are teaming up to make sure they have the help they need.

The Hope Academy announced on Thursday it's merging with the Family and Children's Center.

The Academy provides schooling for teen moms in both high school academics and parenting skills.

For teen mom Nicole Cox, the Hope Academy is a place she and her daughter Gabby are welcomed and understood.   

"You're not the only one, you can relate, you can definitely relate, whereas in the normal high school they don't understand what you're going through," said Cox.

So when she heard that the Hope Academy and the Family and Children's Center were merging, she knew it could only mean good things for her and the other teen moms.

"It's is a great match because as a teen mom you need the most support you can get. You can't do it alone. Even when you're 45 and have millions of dollars you can't do it alone. So it's really nice to have the backup and the support that you need," said Cox.

The two agencies decided to merge after their directors talked and realized how well the two non-profits complement each other.

"Hope Academy fits on that continuum of our services because they provide early intervention with teen moms to provide them with support education, parenting classes, mommy and me groups, things like that really designed to strengthen that family unit," said Mike Boehm, the president and CEO of Family and Children's Center.

It will also provide financial stability in a time when funding is hard to come by.

"We want to become financially stable and sustainable. Self-sustaining. We want to reach more teen moms, we certainly have room in the program," said Tricia Brainard.

It's a goal that will ensure moms like Cox have a place to turn, a place that will support them and help them look forward to their future.

"Education. If you don't have it, you don't want to be working at McDonald's or Burger King for the rest of your life and I think that it gives us what we need. We have to be pushing. I had the opportunity to graduate six moths early. That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm starting college early," said Cox.

Hope Academy will move into the Family and Children's Center on Main Street by Jan. 1.

About 10 to 15 moms attend the academy every semester.

The Family and Children's Center says on average only about 50 percent of teen moms graduate in a regular school setting.

But for moms attending the Hope Academy, the graduation rate is 100 percent.